Sometimes I dream of destruction and those dreams led me here. I ended my career, left friends and family and moved to a foreign country. Months of bad luck in my new home only added to my sense of loss. One day felt like the last straw. My mountain bike broke on a trip intended to make me feel better. Looking at a twisted derailer, I screamed and cried to no one.
The next morning, I sit on the beach. At least the Sea can’t be taken from me; it’s not mine. None of the people walking by me see my tears. I feel invisible.
My phone rings. It is E. Do I want to do something today? We could go hiking. E has made a lot of friends and had been hiking and climbing a lot. So we head for Canyon Tripui.
When we arrive, E has forgotten his hiking shoes. He has only flip flops! No matter, he has been here before. E finds the trail ascending to the canyon rim. It is steep though not difficult. Long velvet green stems with spines have brilliant orange flowers for heads. Bushes of menacing cactus with needles stand ready to skewer anything that falls on them. Trees squeeze themselves upward through layers of rock. Some trees are nothing but brown sticks, reaching out like hands to the sky. Everything that lives finds a way to endure here.
We are near the canyon entrance when the Gigantas get lost in an oasis. Green trees, shrubs and cactus frame a river of lumpy white and smooth red sandstone, like a sheet on an unmade bed. A small stream comes from somewhere under the rocks onto the red stone and down into a crack in the earth. A large fly with white eyes on black feathery wings alights on the rocks near us. We watch orange dragonflies circle and drop like helicopters near the water, their wings collecting the light. Something starts to shift in my consciousness.
Pressing on, we seem to be going down: it is greener and the sun isn’t so harsh. Eventually, narrow walls open up into a large basin where huge rocks and entire trees are frozen in their plunge along the walls. The stream we follow sometimes forms large pools and gives life to wildflowers. As a light breeze moves the air around us, E speaks of canyon breath. He shares an exquisite lunch of smoked goat and cow cheese and crackers with dark chocolate for dessert. He tells me a story of how his mom would get exasperated with him coming home wet and muddy after a day at who-knows-where. But muddy and wet is still his measure of a perfect day.
To prove the point, E trods through water at every opportunity. With shoes and socks, I try to be more cautious. But it becomes useless. We come to a sudden drop and I see a rope. E offers to let me go first, but I want his example to reference. He contemplates flip flops or no, then without word tosses his sandals into the pool below. They carelessly spin and turn in the current. He descends effortlessly in a matter of seconds.
I step on the last rock but freeze for a moment in fear. I will have to step from certainty, requiring a mental and physical leap of faith that I am strong enough. I swing leftward, grab the top knot and feel the rush of trusting without knowing. Everything is easier after the first step. I am much stronger than I thought. I drop into the cool water and we laugh at what would be a good day by any measure.
On our way out of the canyon, we pass the top of a palm tree that can be seen from the rim above. It is only the top of the tree, cut off and growing where it lay. Or maybe the whole trunk was buried by rocks and debris and it still lives, growing depsite the obstacles around it. Another tree – a palo blanco – stands suspended in the canyon wall, its roots half-gone and what remains stretches horizontally, exposed from the surrounding rock that fell to storms or earthquakes or volcanoes or whatever fury Mother Nature threw at it. It is clearly growing with green leaves and branches, perhaps not as tall, perhaps weakened. But it lives displayed like art. I have no doubt that it is more beautiful than it ever was.
My consciousness has shifted completely by the time we reach the end of the canyon and the two-track road back to the car. Not a single problem of mine was resolved. But Canyon Tripui gave too many examples that, out of destruction, something more beautiful can remain.
About the Author: Leslie Castro is a recovering lawyer and aspiring writer.
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